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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

Santander UK Joins Safe Spaces Scheme

Santander UK has announced that it is the latest high-street organisation to join Hestia’s Safe Spaces scheme, providing anyone experiencing domestic abuse with access to support in the bank’s network of 445 branches.

As part of the scheme, Santander UK has introduced dedicated safe areas in the form of private offices across most of its branch network. These spaces can be used by anyone who needs them, to contact a support service, phone a helpline or talk to a friend or family member. 

In the branches where there is no suitable private office space, Santander colleagues will be on hand to signpost to the nearest available Safe Spaces partner in the area. The few branches which have no suitable private office space have an alternative Safe Spaces provider within one mile.

The support and access to a Safe Spaces room is available to anyone who asks for it, regardless of whether they’re a Santander customer or not.  As part of the initiative, the bank has rolled out new, specialist training on Safe Spaces and domestic abuse awareness across all of Santander UK’s branches.  

Dorothy Liviabella, Head of Vulnerable Customer Strategy, Santander UK said:  “We know that most domestic abuse cases involve some form of financial abuse, including controlling behaviour, preventing access to funds or blocking online access. Our people are trained to spot the signs of financial abuse and customers can speak to us for confidential support when they need help to regain control over their finances."

“We’re pleased to introduce Safe Spaces, in partnership with Hestia, within our branch network as part of our support to those who are experiencing domestic abuse and need a safe place to access help.”

Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive of Hestia, said:  “Too many victims of domestic abuse are left feeling isolated and unsure where they can safely go for help. We’re proud to provide over 7,000 Safe Spaces on high streets across the UK, giving anyone experiencing domestic abuse a place where they can safely call a loved one, or access specialist support services."

“We’re thrilled to welcome Santander on board as a Safe Spaces partner to expand this vital support to even more UK high streets. Together, we can ensure that more victims of domestic abuse can access vital support safely, which will undoubtedly save lives.”   

Launched by the domestic abuse charity Hestia under its UK SAYS NO MORE campaign, the Safe Spaces scheme was initially launched in pharmacies in March 2020 with the aim to increase the availability of specialist support for survivors of domestic abuse.

In addition to the Safe Spaces initiative, Santander UK can offer a range of support for survivors of financial abuse, depending on their circumstances. The bank also operates a “tell us once” policy where customers can record details of any personal circumstances that may be impacting their finances, so they don’t need to go over the same information each time they speak to the bank. Customers can record information using “tell us once” via Santander’s chatbot on mobile or online banking, in branch or over the phone.

Customers experiencing financial abuse can find more information on Santander’s website, including a link to the UK Finance factsheet on “Surviving Economic Abuse”. 

To find your nearest Safe Space visit their website here

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